The first-ever integrated green code for commercial buildings is set for public release in March.

The International Green Construction Code is designed to integrate and coordinate with the other international codes already being enforced by governmental code officials at all levels, said Richard P. Weiland, CEO of the International Code Council (ICC), which developed the green code along with several groups.

"This will be the first time code officials, owners, and designers will have an integrated regulatory framework to put into practice that meets the goal of greening the construction and design of new and existing buildings," said Weiland. "Only a code that is useable, enforceable and adoptable will have the capability of impacting our built environment in dramatic ways."

The creation of the IGCC brought together diverse sectors of the industry to develop the first integrated, regulatory framework for green commercial buildings, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASTM International, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Green Globes Initiative.

"We are not an industry or advocacy organization, but rather the same folks who have written the building codes used throughout the United States and around the world for decades," said ICC board member Ravi Shah.

The last drafting meeting for the IGCC will be in January in Austin, Texas, with the first public version to be published in March. Public comments will be solicited in August before the IGCC undergoes another round of review, comments, and public hearings in 2011. The green code is scheduled for publication with the 2012 ICC Family of Codes.

In terms of home building, the ICC’s National Green Building Standard, known as ICC-700, has provided guidance to green residential builders since January 2009. The council developed the standard with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) for both new and renovated single-family to high-rise residential buildings. A number of other local and national green standards exist for home building, including the USGBC’s LEED for Homes and Energy Star Homes.

The International Code Council is a non-profit membership association dedicated to building safety, fire prevention, energy efficiency, and sustainable building construction and performance. All 50 states and more than 20,000 U.S. jurisdictions use the organization’s codes for safety and sustainability. These codes also serve as the basis for construction of federal properties around the world, and as a reference for many nations outside the United States.

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor Online for EcoHome.